The Government needs to urgently consider how to stop new or expanded coal mines in New Zealand to keep climate warming to safe levels, says Forest & Bird.
Chief Executive Kevin Hague launched a new petition calling for no new coal mines in his speech at Forest & Bird’s conference today.
Forest & Bird has also joined more than a dozen New Zealand groups in lauching a petition calling for a ban on any new oil and gas permits as well as no new or expanded coal mines.
“We should all be able to agree New Zealand needs a well-planned transition away from coal,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.
“But that requires a clear signal from Government now. The coal industry already has years of consented mining; allowing new or expanded coal mines through the 2020s could lock us into high-emissions scenarios for decades to come.”
A recent International Energy Agency report provided a worldwide roadmap to reaching net zero emissions by 2050. This pathway requires no new oil and gas fields and no new coal mines or mine extensions from 2021. In New Zealand there are currently proposals for new opencast coal mines in Southland and on the West Coast.
“As a developed nation we must take responsibility for our overall contribution to keeping warming to safe levels,” says Mr Hague. In 2020 New Zealand produced more than 2.5 million tonnes of coal, nearly half of which was exported.
“Open-cast coal mining in Aotearoa also has a direct impact on our native plants and animals, with a large proportion of mining occurring in unique and ecologically rich landscapes such as the Buller Plateau on the West Coast,” says Mr Hague.
Forest & Bird has been campaigning for more than a decade to save this area, much of which is public conservation land.
“The Buller Plateau is home to many nationally endangered birds such as roroa (great spotted kiwi), and an incredible range of other unique and isolated animals. The area would be irreversibly damaged by more mining, with some species likely driven to extinction.
“We shouldn’t be mining conservation land at all, let alone for climate-damaging coal. It’s time to start taking a nature-first climate response seriously, and keep wetlands and forests healthy for future generations.”